Henrik Ibsen.

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Volume I. Feast of Solhaug, Lady Inger, Love's
IL The Vikings at Helgeland, The Pre-
lU. Brand
IV. Peer Gynt

V. Emperor and Galilean {2 parts)
VI. League of Youth, Pillars of Society
Vn. A Doll's House, Ghosts
Vin. An Enemy of the People, The Wild
IX. Rosmersholm, The Lady from the Sea
X. Hedda Gabler, The blaster Builder
XL Little Eyolf. John Gabriel Borkman,
When We Dead Aw;iken




Copyright Edition

Emperor and Galilean








Copyright, 1907, by Charles Scrihner's Sons


v/. 5



Introduction vii

Cesar's Apostasy . . . ■ 1

Translated by William Archer

The Emperor Julian 225

Translated by William Archer



In a speecli delivered at Copenhagen in 1898,
Ibsen said : " It is now thirty- four years since
I journeyed southward by way of Germany and
Austria, and passed through the Alps on May 9,
Over the mountains the clouds hung like a great
dark curtain. We plunged in under it, steamed
through the tunnel, and suddenly found our-
selves at Miramare, where the beauty of the
South, a strange luminosity, shining like white
marble, suddenly revealed itself to me, and left
its mark on my whole subsequent production,
even though it may not all have taken the form
of beauty." Whatever else may have had its
origin in this memorable moment of revelation.
Emperor and Galilean certainly sprang from it.
The poet felt an irresistible impulse to let his
imagination loose in the Mediterranean world
of sunshine and marble that had suddenly burst
upon him. Antiquity sprang to life before his
mental vision, and he felt that he must capture
and perpetuate the shining pageant in the me-
dium of his art. We see throughout the play
how constantly the element of external pictu-

* Copyright, I'JO", by Charles Scribner's Sons.



resqueness was present to his mind. Though it
has only once or twice found its way to the
stage/ it is nevertheless — for good and for ill —
a great piece of scene-painting.

It did not take him long to decide upon the
central figure for his picture. What moved him,
as it must move every one who brings to Rome
the smallest scintilla of imagination, was the
spectacle of a superb civilisation, a polity of
giant strength and radiant beauty, obliterated,
save for a few pathetic fragments, and overlaid
by forms of life in many ways so retrograde
and inferior. The Rome of the sixties, even
more than the Rome of to-day, was a standing
monument to the triumph of mediievalism over
antiquity. The poet who would give dramatic
utterance to the emotions engendered by this
spectacle must almost inevitably pitch upon the
decisive moment in the transition — and Ibsen
found that moment in the reaction of Julian.
He attributed to it more " world-historic " im-
port than the sober historian is disposed to allow
it. Gaetano Negri ^ shows very clearly (what,
indeed, is plain enough in Gibbon) that Julian's
action had not the critical importance which
Ibsen assigns to it. His brief reign produced,
as nearly as possible, no effect at all upon the
evolution of Christianity. ISTone the less is it
true that Julian made a spiritual struggle of
Avhat had been, to his predecessors, a mere ques-
tion of politics, one might almost say of police.

'Tt was acted at the Leipzig Stadttheater, December .'),
1896, and at the Belle-Alliance Theater, Berlin, on the occa-
sion of the poet's seventieth birthday, in March IbQS. It must,
of course, have been eiionnously cut down.

^Julian the A2>0Ktate. 2 vols. London, 1905.


Never until his day did the opposing forces con-
front each other in full consciousness of what
was at stake; and never after his day had they
even the semblance of equality requisite to give
the struggle dramatic interest. As a dramatist,
then — whatever the historian may say — Ibsen
chose his protagonist with unerring instinct.
Julian was the last, and not the least, of the
heroes of antiquity.

Ibsen had been in Rome only two or three
months when he wrote to Bjornson (September
16, 1864) : " I am busied with a long poem, and
have in preparation a tragedy, Julianus Apos-
tata, a piece of work which I set about with
intense gusto, and in which I believe I shall
succeed. I hope to have both finished next
spring, or, at any rate, in the course of the
summer." As regards Julianus Apostata, this
hope was very far astray, for nine years elapsed
before the play was finished.^ Not till May 4,
1866 is the project again mentioned, when Ibsen
writes to his friend, Michael Birkeland, that,
though the Danish poet, Hauch, has in the mean-
time produced a play on the same theme, he
does not intend to abandon it. On May 21,
1866, he writes to his publisher, Hegel, that, now
that Brand is out of hand, he is still undecided
what subject to tackle next. " I feel more and
more disposed," he says, " to set to work in
earnest at Kejser Julian, which I have had in
mind for two years." He feels sure that Hauch's
conception of the subject must be entirely dif-

>The poem was never finished at all. It is doubtless that
of which a fragment has been recovered and is about to be
published (1907).


ferent from his; and he does not intend to read
Hauch's play. On July 22, 1866, he writes from
Frascati to Paul Botten-Hansen that he is
" wrestling with a subject and knows that he
will soon get the upper hand of the brute." His
German editors take this to refer to Emperor
and Galilean, and they are probably right; but
it is not quite certain. The work he actually
l)roduced was Peer Gynt; and we know that he
had a third subject in mind at the time. We
hear no more of Julian until October 28, 1870,
when, in his autobiographic letter to Peter Han-
sen, he writes from Dresden : " . . . Here I live
in a tediously well-ordered community. What
will become of me when at last I actually reach
home ! I must seek salvation in remoteness of
subject, and think of attacking Kejser Julian."
This was, in fact, to be his next work; but
two years and a half were still to pass before
he finally " got the upper hand of the brute."
On January 18, 1871, he writes to Hegel: " Your
supposition that Julian is so far advanced that
it may go to the printers next month arises
from a misunderstanding. The first part is fin-
ished ; I am working at the second part ; but
the third part is not even begun. This third
part will, however, go comparatively quickly,
and I confidently hope to place the whole in
your hands by the month of June." This is the
first mention we have of the division into three
parts, which he ultimately abandoned. If Hegel
looked for the manuscript in June, he looked
in vain. On July 12 Ibsen wrote to him : " Now
for the reason of my long silence : I am hard at
work on Kejser Julian. This book will be my


chief work, and it is engrossing all my thoughts
and all my time. That positive view of the
world which the critics have so long been de-
manding of me, they will find here." Then he
asks Hegel to procure for him three articles on
Julian by Pastor Listov, which had appeared in
the Danish paper, Fcedr eland et, and enquires
whether there is in Danish any other statement
of the facts of Julian's career. "I have Nean-
der's German works on the subject; also D.
Strauss's ; but the latter's book contains nothing
but argumentative figments,^ and that sort of
thing I can do myself. It is facts that I re-
quire." His demand for more facts, even at this
stage of the proceedings, shows that his work
must still have been in a pretty fluid state.

Two months later (September 24, 1871) Ibsen
wrote to Brandes, who had apparently been urg-
ing him to " hang out a banner " or nail his
colours to the mast : " While I have been busied
upon Julian, I have become, in a way, a fatalist ;
and yet this play will be a sort of a banner.
Do not be afraid, however, of any tendency-
nonsense: I look at the characters, at the con-
flicting designs, at history, and do not concern
myself with the ' moral ' of it all. Of course,
you will not confound the moral of history with
its philosophy; for that must inevitably shine
forth as the final verdict on the conflicting and
conquering forces." On December 27 (still from
Dresden) he writes to Hegel: "My new work
goes steadily forward. The first part, Julian and

' It was. in fact, a pamphlet aimed at Frederick Willian
IV. of Prussia, and entitled A lioi/tanlicisl on Ihe Throne oj


the Vaesara.


tJir. PJiilosophers, in tlircc acts, is already copied
out. . . . T am busily at work upon the second
part, which will go quicker and be considerably
shorter; the third part, on the other hand, will
be somewhat longer." To the same correspond-
ent, on April 24, 1872, he reports the second
part almost finished. " The third and last part,"
he says, " will be mere child's play. The spring
has now come, and the warm season is my best
time for working." To Brandes, on May 31, he
writes, " I go on wrestling with Julian " ; and on
July 23 (from Berchtesgaden) " That monster
Julian has still such a grip of me that I cannot
shake him ofP." On August 8 he announces to
Hegel that he has " completed the second part
of the trilogy. The first part, Julian and the
Philosophers, a play in three acts, will make
about a hundred printed pages. The second part,
Julian's Apostasy, a play in three acts, of which
I am now making a fair copy, will be of about
equal length. The third play, Julian on the
Imperial Throne, will run to five acts, and my
preparations for it are so far advanced that I
shall get it out of hand very much quicker than
the others. What I have done forms a whole in
itself, and could quite well be published sepa-
rately; but for the sake of the complete impres-
sion I think it most advisable that all three
plays should appear together."

Two months later (October 14) the poet is
back in Dresden, and writes as follows to a new
and much-valued friend, Mr. Edmund Gosse : " I
am working daily at Julianas Apostata, and . . .
hope that it may meet with your approval. I
am putting into this book a part of my own


spiritual life; what I depict, I have, under other
forms, myself gone through, and the historic
theme I have chosen has also a much closer rela-
tion to the movements of our own time than
one might at first suppose. I believe such a
relation to be indispensable to every modern
treatment of so remote a subject, if it is, as a
poem, to arouse interest." In a somewhat later
letter to Mr. Gosse he says : " I have kept strictly
to history, . . . And yet I have put much self-
anatomy into this book."

In February, 1873 the play w^as finished. On
the 4th of that month Ibsen writes to his old
friend Ludvig Daae that he is on the point of
beginning his fair copy of what he can confi-
dently say will be his " Hauptwerk," and wants
some guidance as to the proper way of spelling
Greek names. Oddly enough, he is still in search
of facts, and asks for information as to the
Vita Maximi of Eunapius, which has not been
accessible to him. Two days later (February 6)
he writes to Hegel : " I have the great pleasure
of being able to inform you that my long work
is finished — and more to my satisfaction than
any of my earlier works. The book is entitled
Emperor and Galilean, a World-Drama in Two
Parts. It contains: Part First, Caesar^s Apos-
tasy, play in five acts (170 pp.) ; Part Second,
The Emperor Julian, play in five acts (252 pp.).
. . . Owing to the growth of the idea during
the process of composition, I shall have to make
another fair copy of the first play. But it will
not become longer in the process; on the con-
trary, I hope to reduce it by about twenty pages.
. . . This play has been to me a labour of Her-


cules — not the actual composition : that has been
easy — but the effort it has cost me to live myself
into a fresh and visual realisation of so remote
and so unfamiliar an age." On February 23,
he writes to Ludvig Daae, discussing further
the orthography of the Greek names, and add-
ing : " My play deals with a struggle between
two irreconcilable powers in the life of the
world — a struggle which will always repeat it-
self. Because of this universality, I call the
book * a world-historic drama.' For the rest,
there is in the character of Julian, as in most
that I have written during my riper years, more
of my own spiritual experience than I care to
acknowledge to the public. But it is at the
same time an entirely realistic piece of work.
The figures stood solidly before my eyes in the
light of their time — and I hope they will so
stand before the readers' eyes."

The book was not published until the autumn
(October 16, 1S73). On September 8, Ibsen
w^'ote to Brandes that he was daily expecting
its appearance. " I hear from Norway," he went
on, " that Bjornson, though he cannot know any-
thing about the book, has declared it to be ' Athe-
ism,' adding that it was inevitable it should
come to that with me. What the book is or is
not I won't attempt to decide ; I only know that
I have energetically seen a fragment of the his-
tory of humanity, and what I saw I have tried
to reproduce." On the very day of the book's
appearance, he again writes to Brandes from
Dresden : " The direction public affairs have
taken in these parts gives this poem an actuality
I myself had not foreseen."


A second edition of Emperor and Galilean
appeared in December, 1873. In the following?
January Ibsen writes to Mr. Gosse, who had
expressed some regret at his abandonment of
verse : " The illusion I wished to produce was
that of reality. I wished to leave on the reader's
mind the impression that what he had read had
actually happened. By employing verse I should
have counteracted my own intention. . . . The
many everyday, insignificant characters, whom
I have intentionally introduced, would have be-
come indistinct and mixed up with each other
had I made them all speak in rhj'thmic measure.
We no longer live in the days of Shakespeare,
. . . The style ought to conform to the degree
of ideality imparted to the whole presentment.
My play is no tragedy in the ancient accepta-
tion. My desire was to depict human beings and
therefore I would not make them speak the lan-
guage of the gods." A year later (January 30,
1875) he thus answers a criticism by George
Brandes : " I cannot but find an inconsistency
between your disapproval of the doctrine of ne-
cessity contained in my book, and your approval
of something very similar in Paul Heyse's
Kinder der Welt. For in my opinion it comes
to much the same thing whether, in writing
of a person's character, I say 'It runs in his
blood ' or ' He is free — under necessity.' "

An expression in the same letter throws light
on the idea which may be called the keystone
of the arch of thought erected in this play,
" Only entire nations," Ibsen writes, " can join
in great intellectual movements. A change of
front in our conception of life and of the world


is no parochial matter; and we Scandinavians,
as compared with other European nations, have
not yet got beyond the parish-council standpoint.
But nowhere do you find a parish-council antici-
pating and furthering ' the third empire.' " To
the like effect runs a passage in a speech deliv-
ered at Stockholm, September 24, 1887 : " I have
sometimes been called a pessimist: and indeed
I am one, inasmuch as I do not believe in the
eternity of human ideals. But I am also an
optimist, inasmuch as I fully and confidently
believe in the ideals' power of propagation and
of development. Especially and definitely do I
believe that the ideals of our time, as they pass
away, are tending towards that which, in my
drama of Emperor and Galilean, I have desig-
nated as ' the third empire.' Let me therefore
drain my glass to the gi-owing, the coming

The latest (so far as I know) of Ibsen's ref-
erences to this play is perhaps the most signifi-
cant of all. It occurs in a letter to the Danish-
German scholar, Julius Hoffory, written from
Munich, February 26, 1888 : " Emperor and Gali-
lean is not the first work I wrote in Germany,
but doubtless the first that I wrote under the
influence of German spiritual life. When, in the
autumn of 1868, I came from Italy to Dresden,
I brought with me the plan of The League of
Youth, and wrote that play in the following
winter. During my four years' stay in Rome,
I had merely made various historical studies,
and taken sundry notes, for Emperor and Gali-
lean; I had not sketched out any definite plan,
much less written any of it. My view of life


was still, at that time, National-Scandinavian,
wherefore I could not master the foreign ma-
terial. Then, in Germany, I lived through the
great time, the year of the war, and the devel-
opment which followed it. This brought with it
for me, at many points, an impulse of transfor-
mation. My conception of world-history and of
human life had hitherto been a national one.
It now widened into a racial conception; and
then I could write Emperor and Galilean J^

I have now brought together those utterances
of Ibsen's which relate the external history of
the great double-drama, and give us some in-
sight into the spiritual influences which inspired
and shaped it. We have seen that, at the time
of its completion, he confidently regarded it as
his masterpiece. It is the habit of many artists
always to think their last work their best; but
there is nothing to show that this was one of
Ibsen's foibles. Moreover, even towards the
end of his life, when the poet was asked by Pro-
fessor Schofield of Harvard, what work he con-
sidered his greatest, he replied. Emperor and
Galilean. If this was his deliberate and lasting
opinion, we have here another curious instance
of the tendency, so frequent among authors, to
capricious over-valuation of one or another of
their less successful efforts. Certainly we should
be very sorry to miss this splendid fresco of the
decadent Empire from the list of Ibsen's works;
but neither technically nor intellectually — un-
less I am very much mistaken — can it rank
among his masterjjieces.

Of all historical plays it is perhaps the most


strictly historical. Apart from some unimpor-
tant chronological rearrangements, the main
lines of Julian's career are reproduced with ex-
traordinary fidelity. The individual occurrences
of the first play are for the most part invented,
and the dialogue freely composed; but the sec-
ond play is a mere mosaic of historical or leg-
endary incidents, while a large part of the
dialogue is taken, almost word for word, either
from Julian's own writings, or from other his-
torical or quasi-historical documents. I will try
to distinguish briefly between the elements of
history and fiction in the first play; in the
second there is practically no fiction, save the
fictions of Gregory and the ecclesiastical his-

The details of the first act have no historical
foundation. Gallus was not appointed Caesar
on any such occasion as Ibsen describes; and
there seems to be no hint of any intrigue be-
tween him and Helena. The character of Aga-
thon is fictitious, though all that is related of
Julian's life in Cappadocia is historical. The
meeting with Libanius is an invention; and it
was to Nicomedia, not to Pergamus, that Julian
was sent shortly after the elevation of his brother
to the second place in the Empire.

The chronological order of the events on
which the second and third acts are founded
is reversed by Ibsen. Julian fell under the
influence of ]\Iaximus before ever he went to
f Athens. Eunapius relates his saying, " I go
where torches light themselves, and where stat-
ues smile," or words to that effect; but they
were spoken at Pergamus to Chrysantius, a Neo-


Platonist, who, while deprecating' the thauma-
turgic methods of Maximus, averred that he
himself had witnessed this marvel. For the de-
tails of the symposium at Ephesus there is no
foundation, though Gregory and others relate
weird legends of supernatural experiences which
Julian underwent at the instance of Maximus.
Not till after the disgrace and death of Gallus
did Julian proceed to Athens, where he did
not study under Libanius. Indeed, I cannot dis-
cover that he ever personally encountered Liba-
nius before his accession to the throne. It is
true that Gregory and Basil were his fellow-
students at Athens; but the tender friendship
which Ibsen represents as existing between them
is certainly imaginary.

All the military events at Paris, and the story
of Julian's victory over Knodomar, are strictly
historical. Helena, however, did not die at
Paris, but at Vienne, after her husband had
assumed the purple. Her death was said to have
been indirectly due to a jealous machination of
the Empress Eusebia; but the incident of the
poisoned fruit is quite fictitious, and equally so
are the vague enormities revealed in the dying
woman's delirium. From the fact that Julian
is strangely silent about his wife, we may con-
jecture that their marriage was not a happy one;
but this is all the foundation Ibsen had to build

' I may, perhaps, be excused for quoting at this point an
extract from a review of Negri's Julian the A2Jostate, in which
I tried to summarise the reasons of Julian's iiatred of Chris-
tianity : "Firstly, he was unmoved by the merits of the
Christian ethic, even where it coincided with liis own, because
he saw it so flagrantly ignored by the corrupt Christianity of


For the scene in the Catacombs at Vienne
there is nothing that can fairly be called a his-
toric basis. It is true that, after assuming the
purple, Julian did at one time endanger his
position by shutting himself away from his sol-
diery; it is true, or at least it is i*elated, that
Julian " brought from Greece into Gaul the high
priest of the mysteries — the Hierophant, as he
was called [not Maximus] — and did not decide
to rebel until he had, with the greatest secrecy,
accomplished the prescribed sacred rites." There
is also a vague, and probably mythical, report
of his having gone through some barbarous cere-
mony of purification, in order to wipe out the
stain of his baptism. On such slight sugges-
tions did Ibsen build up the elaborate fabric of

his day. A puritan in the purple, lie was morally too Chris-
tian to be a Christian of the fourth-century Church. Hec-
ondly, he hated the pessimism of Christianity — that very
throwing-forward of its hopes to the life beyond the grave
which so eminently fitted it to a period of social catastrophe
and dissolution. He found its heaven and hell vulgar and
contemptible, and regarded the average Christian as a sort of
spiritual brandy-tippler, who rejected, for a crude stimulant
and anodyne, the delicate lemonade of Neo-Platonic polythe-
ism. Thirdly, he resented what he called the "atheism" of
Christianity, its elimination of the divine from Nature, leav-
ing it inanimate and chilly. Fourthly, like the earlier Em-
perors, he deemed Christianity anti-social, and the Christian
potentially and probably, if not actually, a bad citizen of the
Empire. Fifthly, he hated the aggressive intolerance of
Cliristianity, its inability to live and let live, its polemical
paroxysms, and iconoclastic frenzies. . . . These were the
main elements in his anti Christianity ; and yet they are not,
taken together, quite sufficient to account for the measureless
scorn with which he invarial)ly speaks of 'Galileans.' One
cannot but feel that Christianity must have done him some
personal injury, not clearly known to us. Was he simply
humiliated ])y the hypocrisy he had had to practise in his
boyhood and youth? Or was Ibst-n right in divining some

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